There are two sentence here,

  1. I bought an apple for her.
  2. I gave the robot to her.

Can I exchange 'to' with 'for' in the sentence above?

  1. I bought an apple to her.
  2. I gave the robot for her.

Do the sentences above make sense?


1 Answer 1


No, you cannot generally transpose such prepositions. The verb determines the meaningful actions.

bought ... for

gave ... to

We need to be selective, consider "carried", we can say

I carried the apple in the basket

This would have a completely different meaning to

I carried the apple to the basket

Gave has other possibilities because we can use "for" to imply exchange

I gave £500 for the robot

  • 2
    Yes, "for" can mean "in exchange", so "I gave the robot for her" could mean, say, that the kidnappers demanded that I give them the robot in exchange for them freeing her. "For" can also mean to please or to benefit or to satisfy. Like you might say, "I wore a new suit for her", meaning, I put on these clothes in order to please this woman. So "I gave the robot for her" COULD mean that what I did with the robot was done to please or satisfy her. Like I wanted to keep the robot and my wife wanted me to get rid of it, so finally I gave it away to please her. The wording is a bit awkward for ...
    – Jay
    Feb 12, 2015 at 14:28
  • ... that meaning, but in context it could make sense.
    – Jay
    Feb 12, 2015 at 14:28

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